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How did the implementation of the garden city of the early twentieth century in Russia end?
How did the implementation of the garden city of the early twentieth century in Russia end?

At the beginning of the twentieth century, several projects of "ideal cities" began to be implemented in Russia - near Moscow, Riga and Warsaw. Basically, they relied on the ideas of the English urbanist Howard, his "garden city". The population of such a city, which grew up in an open field, should not exceed 32 thousand people.

1/6 of the area is allocated for building, 5/6 for agriculture. Houses - no higher than 2-3 floors, public transport, radial-beam structure, all administrative and public buildings - in the center, and enterprises and warehouses - along the perimeter of the city.

The beginning of the twentieth century is the time of rethinking the space of cities. The sharp increase in urbanization and technological progress have led to a deterioration in the quality of the urban environment. Illiterate and semi-literate peasants poured into the cities, an increase in crime and infectious diseases, environmental degradation due to coal burning, an increase in the number of factories and barracks with workers, difficulties in delivering food and fuel to the city and the reverse process - the removal of waste. All this gave rise to a demand for the emergence of urbanism, which was then called "urban planning" - order and plan instead of chaos, an attempt to comprehend and build an "ideal city". Precisely to build from scratch, and not to fix the already existing cities - then it seemed that megacities could not be repaired.

Return to the village

Fritsche became the forerunner of the new urbanism in Germany with his book "Die Stadt der Zukunft", and in England - Ebenezer Howard, who appeared in 1898 with the "Garden-Cities of To-morrow" project. Both of them saw the ideal as a garden city, built in an open field and devoid from the very beginning of the ulcers of the cities of that time - a high population density, poor ecology, a heterogeneous social environment, etc. The Interpreter's blog wrote about the projects of "garden cities" of the late 19th - early 20th centuries.

Mankind, Howard wrote, is tired of living in the stone sacks-barracks of modern big cities - it strives to return to the countryside to light, air, sky and greenery. But the village, for all its charm, lacks the enormous advantages of the city; there is no science, art, social life; it is difficult to find work there; the village is monotonous, primitive and dreary. It is necessary to create some other city, an ideal city, which would combine the advantages of city and village and at the same time would be devoid of their disadvantages.

When drawing up the plan of the garden city, Howard believed that the main evil of modern cities is the crowded center with its overpopulation - and therefore he completely destroyed the center, placing a vast park in it. He directed the main artery of city traffic around this park in the form of a circular highway. Thus, instead of one point, he received a large circle, from which streets radiate in the form of rays, in turn intersected by concentric circles.


Only public buildings are located in this central park: museums, libraries, theaters, universities. Residential buildings are located in radii and concentric circles. There are five such circles. On the outskirts of the city, there are factories, warehouses, markets, etc. The wide boulevards running from the circle to the center are the places of the busiest traffic.

Howard suggests that the garden city should have an area of ​​2500-2600 hectares, and only one sixth for the city, and five-sixths for agriculture. To avoid the overpopulation that plagues modern cities, he suggests limiting the population to 32,000. It was precisely this size of the city that he saw as ideal.

Russian "garden cities"

In Russia, the architect and designer Moisey Dikansky became a follower of Howard's ideas. At the beginning of 1914, even before the First World War, he wrote the book "Building cities, their plan and beauty". She came out already in 1915. This was one of the first fundamental works on urban planning in Russia. One of the chapters of the book describes the projects of the "ideal city" in Russia - they were started in the 1910s, but due to the First World War, the Revolution and the Civil War (as it turned out later), they were never implemented. We present a part of the chapter of the book "Building cities, their plan and beauty", which tells about Russian projects of "ideal cities" (scan of the book, pdf).

On the initiative and under the supervision of the city government of Riga, the suburb-garden "Tsarsky Forest" is being built according to the project of the Berlin architect Jansen. Two versts from the city, a plot of 65 acres (approximately 70 hectares) has been allotted for this purpose. Its layout is based on the ideas of English garden cities: in the middle of the city there is a large square with a park; several main streets for high traffic and a whole network of special residential streets. The height of the buildings is limited to two floors with an attic. There are a number of other restrictions that ensure the extensiveness of development. Measures have also been taken to prevent the possibility of land speculation in the future.


The same kind of settlement is arranged according to the project of V. Semyonov, 36 versts from Moscow, the Moscow-Kazan road for its employees. The plan, both as a whole and in individual details, was developed with great skill and taste. The main meridian street-square is original, 30 sazh wide, cutting through the entire city from north to south. This garden street does not have trams and, in general, is not intended for heavy traffic - two radial lateral arteries serve this purpose.

Another experiment on a large scale was undertaken by the Moscow City Administration, which is designing a suburb-garden arrangement on Khodynskoye Pole in Moscow. A loan of 1.5 million rubles is assumed for the settlement of the village. The land plots will be leased on the basis of a new law on the right to build for 96 years with a 10% increase in rent every twelve years, and the surplus of rents will go towards the improvement of the village. Thus, from a social point of view, this experiment is of much greater value than the enterprise of the Moscow-Kazan road.

It should seem all the more strange that the Moscow City Council has introduced a number of antisocial principles into the rules for the development of this village: the right to lease three sites by one person; the right to build houses on three floors; the right to build and re-lease six apartments on one site and, finally, the very layout of the suburb - though done in a very interesting way, provides, however, only large land plots of 300 sq. fathoms (about 6, 3 ares) and higher with the same width of streets. All this will inevitably result in higher prices and squeezing of apartments, deterioration of sanitary and hygienic conditions of housing, and then speculation in this real estate due to the fact that it will have a high profitability.


The suburb-garden, which is currently being organized near Warsaw on the initiative of Dr. Dobrzynski, stands out favorably. The settlement appears on a cooperative basis and, according to the terms of the building, it is fully consistent with its name. The plan was successfully drawn up by the architect Bernoulli.

As we can see, in Russia the movement in favor of garden cities is still in its infancy. But these so far weak beginnings are symptomatic - they indicate that we have developed a significant interest in issues related to the organization of our cities and homes. Of course, it is impossible to settle all of humanity in these ideal cities, but they form, in a sense, a lightning rod that reduces the thrust to overcrowded cities and, thus, serve at the same time to improve the health of old cities.In addition, correctly understood forms of garden cities, as already indicated, have an impact on all other work on building, correcting and expanding existing cities.


If garden cities signify a return to nature, then the architecture of these new cities also means a complete rupture, complete liberation from all the shackles and traditions of historical styles and brings with it a return to the nature of material, to the nature of static laws, to the nature of the goal. On the houses of the garden cities there are no fantastic and magnificent ornaments, no decorative figures, fauns, caryatids, Atlanteans and colonnades. The houses are distinguished by simple but picturesque facades. The appearance in independent forms expresses the internal content, purpose and expediency of buildings. The facade is freely adapted to the needs and outline of the plan.

The city is inhabited, what's next?

But the construction of the Garden City is finished. Its population has reached 32,000. How will the city grow further? Building up an agricultural area is unacceptable, since this would violate the main idea of ​​the garden city - to unite the city and the countryside. It remains, therefore, to create outside the rural area, like the Australian city of Adelaide, a new city on the same principles as the first. And in this way, a whole group of other similar cities is gradually formed around the first garden city. They will be located around the circumference of a large circle, the center of which is the first garden city. With good communication routes, this entire group of cities will represent a single whole, one large city with many centers.

The main point is the fact that the land in the countryside, where it is planned to build such a city, due to the attraction of large masses of the population, will increase in price many times over. This increase in value in modern big cities, where land rent sometimes reaches colossal proportions, is in favor of private owners, who took absolutely no part in its creation. This value arises only from the very fact of the concentration of large masses of the population in one place: in other words, it is created by the collective.

It is understandable and fair that the value created by the team belongs to it. And therefore, in the garden city there is no private ownership of land. It is owned by the entire community, which leases it out to individuals on a leasehold basis. The difference between the price of land before the construction of the city and the price that has increased due to the settlement of the area will be so great that it will cover all the costs of creating and improving the city. And therefore, already from the moment of the city's creation, its population becomes the owner of great wealth, the use of which is fraught with brilliant consequences.

Destruction of private ownership of land, i.e. an increase in ground rent - this main source of unjust enrichment - should result in a reduction in the cost of all basic necessities, such as housing, food supplies, etc. And this, in turn, will entail an increase in purchasing power and an improvement in general living conditions.

Post-Soviet urbanism continues the practices of the late USSR: the construction of high-rise, dense micro-raions. Meanwhile, in the early USSR, other ways of urbanization were proposed. The first - according to the projects of Okhitovich: de-urbanization - low-rise suburbs for tens of kilometers (according to the principle of the current American suburbs). The second - according to the projects of Sabsovich: multi-storey communal houses, with a minimum of personal space, where even married couples had to fuck in booths.

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In May 1917, almost half of Barnaul burned down. This was the reason for the development of the first plan for a utopian "garden city" in Russia. The city would be in the form of the sun, the boulevards would be its rays. In it, people would live in their own houses with a large plot of land, factories were moved to the countryside. In 1922, the Bolsheviks began to build a "garden city", but with the advent of Stalinism, the project was stopped.

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